What Is Sustainable Living?
Sustainable living is something we should all be reaching for every day. The idea is to live in a way that doesn’t use more resources than truly needed. For most people, it means being aware of what/how much we consume and then trying to reduce that in every way possible. Think of things like electricity for your home, gas in your car, and all of the single-use items you go through each month. In this article, we will go over some simple fixes you can try to use to live a more sustainable life.
Start Your Sustainable Lifestyle At Home
Your house is probably the best place to start living a more sustainable lifestyle, since you’re in control of almost everything in your own home.
Start with basic things like electricity and water usage. Use less electricity by turning lights on only when you need them and turning them off every time you leave a room/area. When your current light bulbs burn out, replace them with energy efficient bulbs. Turn things like computers, TVs and other appliances off (and unplug them if possible) when you aren’t using them.
Pay close attention to your water usage. Shave a few minutes off your shower time if you can, and look into getting a low-flow shower head. Avoid using a dishwasher, instead wash dishes in large batches whenever you have the time.
You can cut your water + electricity use by washing your laundry on a shorter, cold water cycle and hanging to dry. Of course we don’t always have the time or space to hang our laundry out to dry. I use wool dryer balls, which help my laundry get dry faster and eliminate the need for fabric softener/dryer sheets.
Shopping for Sustainable Living
Your first step when shopping for sustainable living is to get yourself some reusable bags. Grocery stores like Publix and Trader Joe’s sell them for as little as 99 cents and are making sustainability efforts themselves. But don’t stop there. TJ Maxx sells larger reusable bags that are perfect for clothes, jewelry, home goods, etc. Once you stock up, keep your bags in your car, bike basket, and/or entrance area of your house.
Sustainable Grocery + Household
Next, try to avoid things that are individually packaged, like water bottles, small bags of chips/snacks, single-serving containers of yogurt, the list goes on! Buy larger containers and portion out servings in reusable containers at home. This will save money in the long run, too.
Pay attention to packaging as well. Most food packaging has all the necessary recycling information printed on it somewhere. If you don’t see any information, it’s safe to assume that it’s not a good choice. Opt for things that can be recycled or upcycled when you’re done with them. Glass jars make great drinking glasses or storage containers depending on their size and shape, and even plastic containers can be used for storage several times before becoming garbage.
Avoid packaging altogether when you can. Grocery stores like Whole Foods and Lucky’s Market have bulk sections where you can purchase snack items, coffee and spices. Try shopping at local farmer’s markets for fruits and veggies.
There are local zero waste markets popping up everywhere. You can bring your own containers to fill with household necessities like laundry detergent and body wash. They usually sell other zero/low waste products, like shave soap bars, bamboo cutlery and reusable straws. Check out my favorite local zero waste market, Sans Market to get a better idea of what to expect.
Sustainable Living In Style
It doesn’t end with groceries and household goods. You can make sustainable choices when shopping for clothing, shoes and accessories. The worst offender in this category is “fast fashion.” This term applies to stores like Forever 21, who make low-quality versions of trendy clothes, shoes, etc. The things they make aren’t meant to last – they’re doomed to life in a landfill. Online vintage and used clothing stores like Thredup and Poshmark offer used clothes that are just as trendy, better quality and similar in price. You can also try your local thrift stores and vintage clothing shops.
Sustainable Commute + Travel
Commuting and travel can be one of the toughest areas to live a more sustainable lifestyle, but we can still try.
If you live in an area with public transit, drive or bike to the station and take the train/subway when traveling farther distances.
If public transit isn’t an option for you, try to find a group to carpool with. Reach out to others who work in the same office, building, or general area as you. When you’re in the market for a new vehicle, look into getting an electric/hybrid. Cars like the Toyota Prius are very reasonably priced, and you will save a ton of money on gas each year
When traveling longer distances, try to make the most responsible choices that you can. We can’t all be Greta Thunberg! Most of us have limited time + money to spend on vacation, so we have to be realistic here. Avoid air travel when possible by driving your car, taking a bus, or traveling by train. If you must fly, be responsible once you arrive. Take public transit and rent bikes or scooters rather than ubering or getting a taxi to each destination.
Start Your Sustainable Lifestyle Now
Time is of the essence. Every choice you make will have a positive or negative impact on our environment. Start making changes to your lifestyle today! Check out my posts on how to help the environment and what it means to be eco-friendly for more information 🙂